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Democrats Score Big Wins in Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia; CNN Poll: Trump Narrowly Leads Biden in Rematch; Ohio Voters Say 'Yes' to Making Abortion a Right. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 08, 2023 - 06:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Big night, big election night. A lot of headlines to get to this morning.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: A little bit of a narrative shift, perhaps.

HARLOW: A little bit?


HARLOW: A lot of bit.

MATTINGLY: A lot of bit.

HARLOW: Democrats celebrating big wins this morning after Ohio voters resoundingly say "yes" to a constitutional right to abortion. They also notched victories in Virginia and Kentucky. That is where Democratic Governor Andy Beshear won a second term in a deep-red state.

MATTINGLY: The big question: Can these wins boost President Biden? What do they mean for 2024? A new CNN shows him losing in a potential rematch with former President Trump.

And right now, an evacuation corridor is open for people to get out of Northern Gaza as Israel says its troops are at the, quote, "heart of Gaza City." That corridor closes next hour.

HARLOW: New this morning, the House has censured Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for her criticism of Israel. Twenty-two Democrats joining with Republicans to reprimand the Michigan Democrat.

MATTINGLY: And Ivanka Trump is set to take the stand today in the New York civil fraud trial against her father and his company. She's going to be the fourth family member to testify, but she is not a defendant in the case.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: And Phil is right: a big narrative shift and a huge night for Democrats on abortion rights.




HARLOW: Hear those cheers in Ohio? Voters in Ohio deciding to make abortion a right under the state's constitution. A solid majority voting yes. This is a state controlled by Republicans.

MATTINGLY: And in Virginia, CNN projects Democrats will take full control of the state legislature. They held onto the state Senate, flipped the House of Delegates. Abortion was, as you know, a dominant issue in these races.

It is a setback for Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, who was hoping to have total control of state government as he pushes to restrict abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

HARLOW: Also, in the deep-red state of Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has won reelection.






HARLOW: Keep in mind: this is a state where Donald Trump won by 26 points in 2020. Beshear beat his Republican opponent by about 5 points, according to the latest tally.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Anger politics end right here and right now. Just look at what we were up against: five super PAC, my opponent's super PAC, Mitch McConnell's super PAC, all running ads full of hate and division. And you know what? We beat them all at the same time.


MATTINGLY: Now, Republicans did notch a win in Mississippi, where Republican Governor Tate Reeves was reelected.

CNN's Eva McKend is live for us in Louisville, Kentucky. Eva, always a little bit of a dangerous game to try and extrapolate off-year election results. But we're going to go ahead and do that right now.

What do Democrats think this means after a very good night?

EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a significant victory for Democrats. And it couldn't come at a better time, as there is tremendous anxiety about President Biden's bid for reelection. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCKEND (voice-over): Across several states, voters made their voices heard on crucial ballot measures and important races for political office.

In Ohio, a state which has trended Republican in recent elections, voters in the state approved a ballot measure enshrining the right to abortion in the state constitution, signaling that abortion access is a key issue for voters across party lines.

In a statement, President Biden applauding the passage of the state's abortion rights measure, saying, "Tonight Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms, and democracy won."

Ohio voters also approved a second ballot measure, legalizing marijuana, making it the 24th state to do so.

In Virginia, a setback for the current GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin.

GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA): And you know what winning means? Hold the House and flip the Senate.

MCKEND (voice-over): While the governor hoped for both chambers of the state legislature to go Republican, the Democrats won control of both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, retaining the Senate and flipping the House of Delegates.

And in two marquee governors' races --

BESHEAR: Thank you, Kentucky.


MCKEND (voice-over): -- Democratic Governor Andy Beshear reelected to a second term in Kentucky, defeating Republican Daniel Cameron in a deep-red state that Donald Trump easily won in 2020.

BESHEAR: Tonight, Kentucky made a choice. A choice not to move to the right or to the left, but to move forward for every single family.

GOV. TATE REEVES (R-MS): And I got to tell you, this victory sure is sweet.

MCKEND (voice-over): And in Mississippi, GOP Governor Tate Reeves reelected to another term, beating Democrat Brandon Presley.

REEVES: I'm fired up for the next four years. I'm fired up, because Mississippi has momentum, and this is Mississippi's time.

MCKEND (voice-over): And in Philadelphia, history was made --

CHERELLE PARKER (D), PHILADELPHIA MAYOR-ELECT: I'm Philly born, I'm Philly bred, and I'll be in Philadelphia until I'm dead.

MCKEND (voice-over): -- with former city council member Cherelle Parker becoming the first woman elected mayor for the City of Brotherly Love.


MCKEND: Democrats say continue to expect abortion to be front and center, as they will continue to elevate the issues they argue most Americans care about as they try to replicate these victories in 2024 -- Phil, Poppy.

HARLOW: Eva McKend, thank you so much.

Joining us now, White House correspondent for Reuters, Jeff Mason; cofounder of Black Voters Matter, LaTosha Brown; and CNN political commentator, former Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan. Guys, thanks for being here.

Narrative shift, for sure. Democrats feeling some momentum that they needed this morning after that polling from Biden. What do you make of abortion in Ohio? Is that just Ohio, just abortion, or is that a push for Dems across the nation that helps them into 2024?

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTES MATTER: You know, I think when we're looking at voters now, I think voters are a little bit more nuanced and sophisticated than sometimes the polls actually pick up.

And so while I do think that abortion has been a key issue, not only we saw that in the midterms, but we saw it last night, that I think women and young voters in particular are over-performing -- are performing or responding to that.

But I also think that there are other issues, as well. Marijuana passed, the legalization of marijuana passed, actually, in Ohio. And then when you look at what happened to Beshear in Kentucky, I think that health care played a real key role.

So I think this is going to be an election cycle that issues are going to matter.

MATTINGLY: Geoff with a "G."

No disrespect. No disrespect.



MATTINGLY: Clarity is important. It's important for the former president to note -- yes.


DUNCAN: -- if Trump is to notice.

MATTINGLY: We're teaching and learning at the same time.

Glenn Youngkin really kind of staked where he's at in his star rise in the party, which I think has been unequivocal, since he was elected back in 2021, on flipping a chamber, having the trifecta, being able to move conservative Republican policies through Virginia, a traditional blue state over the course of the last couple of cycles. What does this do for him?

DUNCAN: So 24 hours ago, Glenn Youngkin had more political capital than just about anybody in the Republican Party other than Donald Trump. And 24 hours later, he doesn't do what he said he wanted to do.

In fact, one of the reasons he said he didn't run for president was because he wanted to keep the Senate and win the House of Delegates. And that obviously didn't happen.

Look, I think he, you know, maybe had a significant misstep late in the game. He talked a lot about abortion. Virginia is one big suburb. I think the issues we've seen play out across the country isn't really a good issue to talk about for Republicans. We haven't really figured out our cadence yet.

We have made abortion about a primary, and it seems like we just continue to hammer the issue of abortion in -- through the lens of being -- running a primary.

We walk into a general, and we've no empathy in our tone. We've got no understanding of what that 17-year-old is dealing with in her life or whether there are tough circumstances. Until we figure that out, we're just going to keep getting beat over and over on that issue.

HARLOW: It's an interesting point, Jeff, because -- Jeff with a "J" -- because Glenn Youngkin was trying to thread that needle, tried

to say 15 weeks, not six weeks. He kept saying it's not a ban. He kept using the word "limit."

This is what Vivek Ramaswamy from Ohio, running for president, Republican, said to Kaitlan last night. Listen.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we need to talk about the issue very differently in order to bring people along here. I do think that, if we frame this issue correctly, this need not be some sort of final sign that we take.

This was a lost battle in Ohio today. I'm disappointed about that. I think there are deep reflections in the Republican Party and in the pro-life movement about how to improve from here, but abandoning the pro-life cause I don't think is the right answer.


HARLOW: Kaitlan kept asking him, wait. You think it's just a messaging issue? You think it's just a messaging issue? Is it just a messaging issue?

MASON: Clearly not. I mean, because the polls showed in Ohio that it's not just Democrats who came out and voted in favor of this. It's Republicans, as well, which isn't necessarily good for Joe Biden. I mean, it means it's an issue that is driving people to the polls.

It's certainly good for people who are in favor of reproductive rights, and it's probably good for Democrats, as well. But it won't necessarily translate to get getting more people into his column.


But it is, to your question, certainly much more than the messaging. It's about the core issue, and it's been about the core issue since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

MATTINGLY: LaTosha, when we talk about Biden and it's -- These results came out as a CNN poll. Another CNN poll came out showing his top line is weak. He's losing to the former president in a rematch.

But I think more importantly, his coalitions and the strength of the coalitions that gave him 80-plus million votes in 2020 are weak right now, to some degree. Particularly young voters, African-American voters, and Latino voters.

Is there anything you draw from last night about whether or not that can be recreated?

BROWN: Well, I actually draw the opposite. I actually think last night is indicative that the coalitions are actually strong.

I think that Biden and the Democrats are going to have to do a stronger message that literally centers issues and things that people care about, instead of literally being very candidate-centered. I think we're going to have to shift. They're going to have to shift their message.

For young people, I think the support is within his base. The question is can you maintain and solidify your base of supporters?

HARLOW: I don't know, because -- it's exit polling. The exit polling from Ohio showed that only 25 percent of voters think, you know, Biden is the -- he's the right candidate, a good candidate. So I just wonder if it was more on these issues than on him.

DUNCAN: I think the honest truth is if he had a stiff enough cocktail, a majority of Republicans would do anything to have somebody other than Donald Trump, and same with Democrats, right?

If you just kind of woke up and said is this the perfect candidate? Is this who should be the leader of the free world, most Democrats would not pick Joe Biden.

Both we both seem to be pot committed and victims of gravity, and we are where we're at, all hoping that something else changes in the next few months, and I don't know what that's going to be.

MASON: It's not going to change.

MATTINGLY: Guys, this is a really tough tease to the debate tonight, Republican debate tonight, which we'll obviously all be watching.

Jeff Mason, LaTosha Brown, Geoff Duncan, we appreciate it, guys. Stick around.

HARLOW: And we have been working through the numbers. Next, we're going to take a deep dive into what pushed Ohio voters to the polls and what it all tells us about the big one in '24.

MATTINGLY: And happening now: the Israeli military says a four-hour evacuation corridor is open in Gaza. Plus, what Secretary of State Antony Blinken just said about growing calls for a ceasefire there. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: So let's take a closer look at the leading issue driving last night's election results.

Last night Ohio became the seventh state to vote to protect abortion rights. Abortion also a critical issue in the governor's race in Kentucky and in the state legislature races throughout Virginia.

Let's start with Ohio. We had the 2020 map up for a reason, because this is very clearly a red state. It has been moving in that direction cycle after cycle after cycle. Donald Trump in 2020 winning by 475,000 volts.

So what happens when you put it to this actual ballot initiative itself? This wasn't even close. When it came to a constitutional right to abortion, the "yes" won by 500,000 votes.

And here's what's most interesting here. I think this is what people trying to go county by county and pick out the data are looking at right now.

If you look at the counties that Donald Trump won in 2020, these -- everything that's highlights in orange and green are counties that Trump won in this red state of Ohio. Everything that's green, these are Trump-won counties that voted in favor last night, underscoring the ability of this issue to just drive voters in favor of abortion rights.

It's something we've seen repeatedly over the course of the last year. Whether it's in Kansas, whether it's Montana, whether it's in Michigan, whether it's in Kentucky. We saw it again in Ohio.

Now, what about the governor's race? Because this is also a critical race to consider going forward.

Now, when you talk about Andy Beshear, keep in mind, he was an incumbent. He is a popular incumbent, and that is important. But what also is important is when you look at the margin. Beshear running on abortion, the state's restrictive abortion law that Daniel Cameron had shown support for. He won, and he won handily: 66,000 votes ahead, boosting his margins, not just in blue districts that you see here but also minimizing his bleed in districts that are traditionally Republican.

Want to compare it? Well, 2019, only won by 5,000 votes. Republicans would tell you Daniel Cameron is a much better candidate. Beshear beating Cameron by a significant margin.

What about those state legislature races? We talked about Glenn Youngkin and that push there. Well, Glenn Youngkin wanted to flip a chamber and end up having a full trifecta. Not only did he not flip one, he lost a chamber. Now Democrats are in control of the state Senate, holding control there, but also flipping the state House.

And what does that tell you? Well, most of these Democrats were running on abortion, running on a number of issues. But Youngkin tried to threat the needle, thought he could go on offense on the issue, at least according to the results last night in Virginia and Kentucky, and Ohio. That didn't work -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes. Amazing what 24 hours can do.

Phil, thank you so much.

This new CNN polling, though, spells trouble for President Biden in 2024. So what's the campaign's plan? A former member of the Biden administration is here to discuss, next.

MATTINGLY: Plus, Israel's defense minister says IDF troops are now fighting in the, quote, "heart of Gaza City" as Palestinians are seen leaving South, and some waving white flags. The latest on the war front ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Democrats pulling off big wins in Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia last night. There are still serious head winds, though, facing President Biden's reelection campaign.

There was a brand-new CNN national poll this morning, and it shows Donald Trump beating Biden in a hypothetical rematch, 49-45. And when it comes to favorability ratings, both candidates are underwater: 39 percent favorable, versus unfavorable for Biden. Trump, not too far off, 38 percent favorable, versus 56 percent unfavorable.

Still, what this poll makes clear is that Americans see Biden's weakness as Trump's strength. On whether the candidate has the stamina and the sharpness to serve effectively, only a quarter of Americans back Biden, compared to 53 percent who say Trump has that.

And on being an effective world leader, Biden comes in at 36 percent. Trump comes in at 48 percent.

Meanwhile, we are seeing the same trends nationally that we saw in those swing state polls from "The New York Times" and Siena College. Biden losing support among key groups that helped him win in 2020, like younger voters, voters younger than 35, where Trump leads by a point. But in 2020, Biden won that group by 24 points.

Among black voters, 73 percent favor Biden. That number was 87 percent for Biden in 2020.

And Latino voters, they're split. Fifty percent say Biden, 46 percent say Trump. That's a 4-point margin. In 2020, Biden won that group by 33 points.

And as of right now, there appears to be a big enthusiasm gap. Seventy-one percent of Republicans say they are extremely motivated to go to the polls in '24, compared to 61 percent of Democrats -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: We'll discuss all of this and more. Let's bring in CNN political commentator, Kate Bedingfield. She previously served as the White House communications director under President Biden; also the deputy campaign manager of the 2020 campaign.

Put your campaign manager hat on, then we'll get the communications manager. Is the assumption here that, at some point, people will zero in on a Trump versus Biden rematch, and therefore, the coalition will come home?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there are two things.

Yes, I do think that the challenge for the Biden campaign, in many ways, is to make this -- make this 2024 effort about Trump and to really draw that contrast. I mean, you sort of rattle off all of the numbers in the CNN poll that's not -- that are not great for Biden. But there are a lot of numbers in that poll that are really troubling for Trump, too.

Trump does not have an enormous bulwark of support, just based on that poll.


So that is, I think -- drawing that contrast is one piece of it. But also, let's take a step back.

You know, voters went to the polls yesterday, and we saw an enormous amount of enthusiasm for the Democratic agenda. We saw that abortion is still motivating voters. We also saw, frankly, that Biden's agenda is incredibly popular.

You know, you listen to Andy Beshear, who won last night. You know, that was -- that was a vintage Biden speech when you listened to his acceptance speech last night. You know, he's talking about his success, working on the Brent Spence Bridge. He's talking about universal broadband. I mean, these are things that are Biden accomplishments.

So I think what we saw from voters actually going to the polls yesterday is that there is enormous popularity for the Biden agenda. And so the challenge for Biden is to capture that enthusiasm and drive that contrast, which he now has a year to do.

HARLOW: But he's not polling well in the economy. It's like 36 percent. And our reporting yesterday that is really interesting is, quote, "There is no major strategy revamp coming, no deep reassessments, no candidate replacements."

Why no shift at all, given the reality of those numbers?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, this is -- look, this is a confounding problem. I'll tell you from my time in the White House. This is an incredibly confounding messaging problem.

Because there are so many signs that the economy is stronger than anybody anticipated it would be two years ago, that we've avoided recession, that we're growing jobs.

But people have concerns about costs. They have concerns about inflation. The president certainly knows that and is focused on addressing what people are feeling in their day-to-day lives.

But I think, as an electoral matter, if you're making decisions about how you turn out your voters, yesterday was a good road map. I mean, voters yesterday had concerns about the economy, but they turned out in droves to reject the Republican agenda on abortion. And again, in support of some of these core planks of the Biden economic agenda.

So it is a confounding challenge, absolutely. There is a huge disconnect between how people feel about the economy, and, you know, what on paper is a strong economy, something the campaign and the White House grapple with.

But, again, I think there was a road map yesterday to electoral success, and we saw it in voters actually coming out and voting.

MATTINGLY: I think we probably spent hours in your office, you walking me through internal polling --


MATTINGLY: -- about how the issues are popular.


MATTINGLY: The issues of the infrastructure law, the issues of the Inflation Reduction Act, the issues of the bill, issue, by issue, they're popular, they're not transferring CHIPS Bill. Issue by issue by issue, they're popular. It's just not transferring to favorables for Biden.

And yet, for Beshear, Andy Beshear, they were popular for him. He was at the Brent Spence Bridge with Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell.

BEDINGFIELD: Sure, sure.

MATTINGLY: What is the disconnect with the president specifically? And I guess the obvious question is, is it his age? BEDINGFIELD: Well, but he also -- Biden hasn't been on the ballot. I

mean, you're -- you know, this is not -- we haven't seen -- voters have not rejected Joe Biden at the ballot box. I mean, this is -- that's sort of -- the frame there, kind of pre-supposes the idea that voters have said, You know, I like your agenda, but I don't like you. I -- we haven't seen that.

So, you know, I think, look, is age a question? Is it at the forefront of the conversation? Yes, we certainly see that in the polling.

But we also see, again, that when the rubber meets the road and voters go to the polls, this was true in 2022 in the midterms, when the, you know, expectation was that Democrats were going to get wiped out, and they did not. It was certainly true in the run-up to yesterday. Which yesterday was also a good reminder, the narrative doesn't vote. Right? Voters vote. The narrative doesn't vote.

MATTINGLY: Do polls vote?

BEDINGFIELD: Polls do not vote. They don't vote. But just to make sure we're clear on this.

HARLOW: I feel like this was said a lot in Pete's (ph) office between the two of you. Phil, polls do not vote.

BEDINGFIELD: Polls don't vote. And you know what? It's still true.

HARLOW: So good to have you, Kate.

BEDINGFIELD: Thanks for having me.

MATTINGLY: Appreciate it.

Well, the House votes to censure Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib over her comments about Israel. The heated remarks from both sides on the House floor.

HARLOW: Also, Ivanka Trump set to take the stand to testify today in the New York fraud trail against the Trump Organization. What her testimony could mean for that family's business.